Agencies Required to Use Federal Award Identification Number (FAIN) for Grant Awards
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently outlined new initiatives designed to improve data quality and information of federal grant spending on USASpending.gov. In a June 2013 memorandum to the chief financial officers of federal agencies, OMB Deputy Controller Norman Dong directed agencies to 1) assign all federal financial awards with a unique identifying number and 2) validate funding information on USASpending.gov.
USASpending.gov is designed to increase the transparency of federal spending by allowing the public to readily identify how their tax dollars are being spent. While USASpending.gov has expanded the availability of information related to government spending, there have been repeated calls from members of Congress and government watchdog associations to improve the quality of data on the website.
Beginning in October 2013, federal agencies will be required to assign a Federal Award Identification Number (FAIN) to every grant and ensure the FAIN is used in all federal award documents. Additionally, grant award terms and conditions must specifically instruct pass-through entities to use the assigned FAIN on all subawards. The use of a FAIN is intended to enhance data quality on USASpending.gov by allowing the public to more easily track specific government awards and spending.
The OMB memorandum also requires agencies to validate federal financial award data on USASpending.gov by November 15, 2014. OMB has provided agencies with flexibility in developing and implementing procedures to meet this requirement.
In recent years, policy makers have emphasized enhancing transparency of federal financial awards. In May, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) of 2013. The DATA Act would increase transparency and accountability of federal grants, contracts, and spending by standardizing reporting requirements.
Pursuing a similar objective, the Government Reform and Transparency Board (GAT Board) has analyzed methods to improve transparency. One method would be the creation of a government-wide universal award ID (UAID) system that would assign a unique number to every federal award. The UAID system would be incorporated into the Treasury Department’s payment system.
The OMB memo is available here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/financial/memos/improving-data-quality-for-usaspending-gov.pdf